Hope, violation of election rules, debate

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013


ONE thing I learned in my years of covering Philippine elections is that the phrase “hope springs eternal” rings truer during an electoral campaign than in any other activity this country holds. Every candidate—and they are in the thousands especially when local and national polls are held simultaneously—sees himself/herself winning no matter the odds.

In Monday’s local TV Patrol newscast, a report about the Cebu gubernatorial race showed footage of one of the “the other” candidates, former broadcaster Roliveth “Boyet” Cortes.

I know Boyet from the old days when we crossed paths during coverage of major events (he was with Bantay Radyo, I was with The Freeman). He understands the electoral setup better than ordinary people, yet he is not backing off despite facing formidable opponents in One Cebu’s Pablo John Garcia and the Liberal Party’s Hilario “Junjun” Davide III.

In the race for vice governor, businessman Glenn Soco is plodding on despite the rejection of his bid to team-up with Garcia, who instead picked as his running mate for strategic purposes Ramon “Boboy” Durano IV of the formidable Durano clan of the fifth district. A Sun.Star photo in yesterday’s issue showed Soco campaigning at the Danao Public Market. It’s a lonely campaign for him, but then again, hope springs eternal.

***

It’s amusing to hear officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) clarifying election rules to whoever listens and issuing threats against candidates and their supporters who violate these as the official campaign period for local elections straddles its first week. I mean, it’s amusing for those who know the conduct of Philippine polls.

As I said before, the campaign period for the May 13 elections already started several months ago with Comelec officials washing their hands by saying it was not illegal because the campaign period had yet to start. I joked about it in a talk with a candidate and he told me that now is the campaign period, before that was only an “awareness drive.”

Trust politicians to be wise in the use of terms. As for Comelec officials, action, not words, is the point. Note the campaign materials adorning walls, fences, posts, trees, etc. Since I got aware of the democratic practice of electing leaders, I still have to see a candidate being penalized for violating rules on their posting.

***

Will we ever see candidates, at least for the top local posts, engaging in a public debate on their programs of government and other important concerns? Debates used to help voters determine who among the candidates possess the best program, not to mention intellect.

In the province, the two major gubernatorial candidates, PJ and Junjun, are lawyers who presumably are not strangers to debates. A group reportedly wanted to organize a debate for them but, according to PJ’s media consultant Sam Costanilla, Junjun wouldn’t bite. Junjun’s camp has not denied the claim, so this must be true.

In Cebu City’s south district, lawyer Aristotle Batuhan, the candidate of Team Rama, has dared Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) bet Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa, an educator, to a debate. Bebot is reportedly not biting also. I understand why Bebot wouldn’t engage Totol to a debate. He is even almost silent in city council sessions.

But if a debate would be mounted, these two would crackle like fireworks: the first would be between reelectionist Mayor Michael Rama and his rival Rep. Tomas Osmeña and the second would be between Cebu City north district congressional bets Raul del Mar and Annabelle Rama.

(khanwens@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 03, 2013.

Opinion

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